Give me your best shot - I've probably heard it all. Everybody has reasons why they can't get to the gym, why something else takes precedence, why they hate exercise and working out. Truth is: it's good for you. Any exercise, any improvements to your lifestyle can help you live a longer, healthier life with more energy and a better emotional state.
The trick is efficiency. Being efficient in your workout requires that you know what constraints you have, or what prevents you from getting exercise or to the gym in the first place.
Some examples would include:
- Limited time due to work or family
- An injury or chronic problem that makes exercise difficult or painful
- Inability to stay motivated on your own
- Financial Instability
- Lack of confidence
Limited time is a problem almost everyone you see at the gym suffers from; whether it be work related and your hours don't condone a scheduled exercise routine (popular in the medical field), or family and the number of children you have running around your home. The thing is - you can always make time. Whether it be a quick workout at home, getting up early to run to the gym, or arranging to let the kiddos stay at a friends in the afternoon and alternating with another family, it is possible. There are multiple gyms around the Kansas City area that are open 24 hours/day, or that offer classes as early as 5:30 in the morning, or as late as 8 at night. The benefits of exercise not only improve your physical health, but emotional, as well. Exercise activates your body's "happy" hormone production, which can lead to overall reduced stress. Not to mention - parent's, I'm looking at you - we all know how impressionable kids can be. The more active you are, the more active your children will want to be, and they carry those traits with them throughout their entire lives.
Injuries and Chronic Problems
Injuries can make it difficult to exercise when you've been able to do a number of different workouts for so long, and now are limited to a fair few. We'd suggest asking for a referral to an athletic trainer or personal trainer at your gym, or asking your physical therapist who they'd recommend to get you back to performing those higher level activities. There are a number of ways to see the same results with different exercise routines, you just have to find them!
Chronic problems such as arthritis can make exercise seem very, very painful. The trick is to know what aggravates those symptoms, and what doesn't. Activities such as swimming are wonderful for arthritis, as they release the pressure surround the joint cavities in the body. Other non-impactful exercise routines can give you the burst of cardio without the hard impact on the joints, such as elliptical or a stationary bike. It is beyond crucial that any exercise routine include strengthening, whether it be resistance-based or weight-based. Weight lifting, resistance band training, or yoga are great additives to a workout sculpted around arthritic joints because the stronger those muscles, the stronger they pull on their boney insertion points, which naturally gives the joint cavity a little more room to breathe.
Struggle to maintain motivation? Getting into a workout routine can be very, very difficult. It's hard to go expend so much energy to not see changes overnight; but there are things you can do to help improve your chances of success.
Firstly - any habit implementation takes 3 weeks or around 21 days for the brain to accept and change it's default settings. This essentially means the first 3 weeks are going to be the hardest to drag yourself to the gym, but if you can make it through the first 3 weeks, it'll get easier.
Secondly - any habit implementation is easier when it can be added into your daily routine at a specific time, as opposed to random time selections throughout your day. For example, I take my daily vitamins each morning immediately after brushing my teeth. When I found out I needed to take an iron supplement because I was borderline anemic (low iron in the blood), I added my iron supplement to my daily vitamin - and presto! After the first few days, it was habit already to be taking two supplements every morning instead of one. The same concept applies here. If you add going to the gym before or after work each morning, and packing your gym back each night while laying out your work clothes, you may be able to trick your brain into adjusting to the change a little bit faster.
Lastly - the easiest way to hold yourself accountable is to enlist someone else to help do it with you. For the first few weeks while you're adjusting to your schedule, set up appointments with a personal trainer, enroll in workout classes and PRE-PAY (no one likes to waste their money) or recruit a friend to workout with you who already works out consistently. Not only can they help you brainstorm ideas that may be more conducive to the exercise you're looking for, but having someone else hold you accountable helps a lot.
We understand that money can get very tight, so gym memberships may take a backseat when you're already stretching your dollar to the end of the month. As easy as it would be to tell you what you already know, to really take a hard look at your expenses and where your money is going, it's best that we stick to our area of expertise. What we suggest you do is start doing some research on your own, but in the meantime, do your best to improve your lifestyle with the little things. Go for a walk while you eat your sandwich over lunch, walk your dog instead of just letting him out into the yard (and bring your kids!), take advantage of the timeframes your children have practice/school and go for a jog around the neighborhood, take the stairs! There are a number of small changes you can do to help you get used to the exercise and increase your overall energy. Another option would be getting a single personal training session, and explaining your situation; that you'd like basically an info session on what you can do to get the same workout at home without all the equipment of a gym. Most gyms don't require that you be a member to have a single personal training session.
Lack of Confidence
As a person who, at one point, really struggled with their body image, I can honestly tell you that now, sitting on the other side of it, no one is judging you. Most people go to the gym, put their headphones on, and work up a sweat without caring who's on the next machine over - myself included. Consistent gym members go for a number of reasons, but to increase their self confidence by looking down upon others is definitely not one of them. Please don't forget - if you continue to hide, your body image will never change. At some point, you need to stop caring whether or not someone looks at you - changing your lifestyle to improve the way you view yourself and your body has nothing to do with anybody else. Not only can exercise improve your body image by helping you change your body, but exercise allows your brain to flood your body of hormones that induce good moods, a decrease in stress, and lessen anxiety.
Lack of Knowledge
If you're self-conscious because you've never really been a gym-goer, and aren't sure what you're doing or how to work the equipment - ask the staff! You can either set up a personal training session at your local gym just for some general information on how everything works, or ask a specialist who's on the floor if you're interested in trying something you've never tried before. If you're less bold and would rather observe, sit down on a machine you do recognize, and watch someone else use the machine you're interested in.